DeadCo ticket winners to date

October 17th, 2017

Nov 12 Joe Chelius
Nov 14 Jerome Horvath
Nov 16 Michelle Daschka
Nov 17 Jason Kirk
Nov 19 Peter Bennett
Nov 21 Andy Gefen
Nov 22 Melissa Dramstad
Nov 24 Jason Donaldson
Nov 25 Melanie DelGado

DeadCo ticket giveaway – Nov 28 in Charlotte

October 17th, 2017

Dead & Company ticket giveaway!

I’ve got one pair for each show on the upcoming tour. We’re gonna offer them one show at a time. Note: this is admission only. Just a pair of tickets, which you’ll pick up at the venue’s Will Call window.

Today we’re offering a pair of tickets for Tuesday, November 28 at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte NC. If you’d like a pair of tickets to this show, send an email to DEADCO@WELL.COM – put the show date in the SUBJECT line and include your name, email address, and phone number in the body of the message. Emails that don’t have this info presented correctly will be discarded without notice.

We’ll pick a winner at random in a couple of days, and then I’ll announce the next giveaway.

PLEASE NOTE that posting a comment here is not going to do you any good. You enter this contest by sending email as outlined above. A comment here is not a contest entry.

DeadCo ticket giveaway – Nov 25 in Columbus

October 15th, 2017

Dead & Company ticket giveaway!

I’ve got one pair for each show on the upcoming tour. We’re gonna offer them one show at a time. Note: this is admission only. Just a pair of tickets, which you’ll pick up at the venue’s Will Call window.

Today we’re offering a pair of tickets for Saturday, November 25 at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus OH. If you’d like a pair of tickets to this show, send an email to DEADCO@WELL.COM – put the show date in the SUBJECT line and include your name, email address, and phone number in the body of the message. Emails that don’t have this info presented correctly will be discarded without notice.

We’ll pick a winner at random in a couple of days, and then I’ll announce the next giveaway.

PLEASE NOTE that posting a comment here is not going to do you any good. You enter this contest by sending email as outlined above. A comment here is not a contest entry.

Grateful Dead Hour no. 1517

October 15th, 2017

Week of October 16, 2017

Part 1 25:44
Grateful Dead 8/15/71 Berkeley Community Theater

Part 2 29:07
Interview: Michael Norman Mann, author of Red Roses, Green Gold
Jerry Garcia Band, Cats Under the Stars

Support for the Grateful Dead Hour comes this week from:

Dead and Company – Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, John Mayer, Jeff Chimenti and Oteil Burbridge – on tour November 12 through December 8. Complete details and ticketing at That’s Dead and Company, on tour from November 12 through December 8.

Garcia’s at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. Grateful ghosts and dancing dead bears are invited to Stella Blue’s Band’s Halloween Ball at Garcia’s on Friday, October 27. Costumes are encouraged and the most creatively dressed fan will win two tickets to Phil-o-Ween at The Cap on October 31! Events, information, and ticketing at

Red Roses Green Gold – A New Show from MWM Live by Michael Norman Mann, featuring the songs of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter. Playing in New York City’s Greenwich Village at the Minetta Lane Theatre. Tickets are available at or

GDH on the air in Des Moines

October 15th, 2017

KFMG-LP 98.9 in Des Moines IA, Thursdays at 7pm

DeadCo ticket giveaway – November 24 in Detroit

October 13th, 2017

Dead & Company ticket giveaway!

I’ve got one pair for each show on the upcoming tour. We’re gonna offer them one show at a time. Note: this is admission only. Just a pair of tickets, which you’ll pick up at the venue’s Will Call window.

Today we’re offering a pair of tickets for Friday, November 24 at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. If you’d like a pair of tickets to this show, send an email to DEADCO@WELL.COM – put the show date in the SUBJECT line and include your name, email address, and phone number in the body of the message. Emails that don’t have this info presented correctly will be discarded without notice.

We’ll pick a winner at random in a couple of days, and then I’ll announce the next giveaway.

PLEASE NOTE that posting a comment here is not going to do you any good. You enter this contest by sending email as outlined above. A comment here is not a contest entry.

DeadCo ticket giveaway – Nov 22 in Hartford

October 11th, 2017

Dead & Company ticket giveaway!

I’ve got one pair for each show on the upcoming tour. We’re gonna offer them one show at a time. Note: this is admission only. Just a pair of tickets, which you’ll pick up at the venue’s Will Call window.

Today we’re offering a pair of tickets for Wednesday, November 22 at the XL Center in Hartford CT. If you’d like a pair of tickets to this show, send an email to DEADCO@WELL.COM – put the show date in the SUBJECT line and include your name, email address, and phone number in the body of the message. Emails that don’t have this info presented correctly will be discarded without notice.

We’ll pick a winner at random in a couple of days, and then I’ll announce the next giveaway.

PLEASE NOTE that posting a comment here is not going to do you any good. You enter this contest by sending email as outlined above. A comment here is not a contest entry.

DeadCo ticket giveaway – Nov 21 in DC

October 8th, 2017

Dead & Company ticket giveaway!

I’ve got one pair for each show on the upcoming tour. We’re gonna offer them one show at a time. Note: this is admission only. Just a pair of tickets, which you’ll pick up at the venue’s Will Call window.

Today we’re offering a pair of tickets for Tuesday, November 21 at the Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. If you’d like a pair of tickets to this show, send an email to DEADCO@WELL.COM – put the show date in the SUBJECT line and include your name, email address, and phone number in the body of the message. Emails that don’t have this info presented correctly will be discarded without notice.

We’ll pick a winner at random in a couple of days, and then I’ll announce the next giveaway.

PLEASE NOTE that posting a comment here is not going to do you any good. You enter this contest by sending email as outlined above. A comment here is not a contest entry.

Grateful Dead Hour no. 1516

October 8th, 2017

Week of October 9, 2017

Part 1 10:57
Dead & Company 6/3/17 Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain View CA

Part 2 44:38
Grateful Dead 8/15/71 Berkeley Community Theater

Continuing with 8/15/71, Grateful Dead at the Berkeley Community Theater. This is exactly the same sequence we we heard a few weeks ago on the 7/25/72 recording, with one exception: you’ll hear “Truckin’,” a Bill Kreutzmann drum solo, “The Other One,” and “Wharf Rat,” but this performance of “The Other One” has “Me and My Uncle” tucked into the middle of it. It’s a fine example of the groupmind in action: during a high-energy jam, you’ll hear Bobby start to play in the groove of “Me and My Uncle,” and then Billy signals his agreement pretty quickly. The band goes on for a full minute, gradually building a musical consensus, before we hear the song in full.

The jam out of “Wharf Rat” is sweet and melodic, and to my ear it sounds like they gave brief consideration to the idea of going into the old ending of “That’s It for the Other One” before gliding sweetly to a full stop.

Keyboardist Ned Lagin, who met the Dead in the late ’60s and later did those weird-music interludes with Phil Lesh between sets in the summer and fall of 1974, tells us he was onstage for this, but aside from a few organ licks here and there it’s hard to hear him. I suppose it’s possible he wasn’t connected to the sound system. Hard to know what to make of that.

Support for the Grateful Dead Hour comes this week from:

Dead and Company – Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, John Mayer, Jeff Chimenti and Oteil Burbridge – on tour November 12 through December 8. Complete details and ticketing at

Garcia’s at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. You can dance with the devil at Stella Blue’s Band’s Halloween Ball at Garcia’s on Friday, October 27. Most creative costume will win two tickets to Phil-o-Ween at The Cap on October 31! Events, information, and ticketing at

Red Roses, Green Gold – A New Show from MWM Live by Michael Norman Mann, featuring the songs of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter. Playing in New York City’s Greenwich Village at the Minetta Lane Theatre. Tickets are available at or

DeadCo ticket giveaway – Nov 19 in Boston

October 4th, 2017

Dead & Company ticket giveaway!

I’ve got one pair for each show on the upcoming tour. We’re gonna offer them one show at a time. Note: this is admission only. Just a pair of tickets, which you’ll pick up at the venue’s Will Call window.

Today we’re offering a pair of tickets for Sunday, November 19 at the TD Garden in Boston. If you’d like a pair of tickets to this show, send an email to DEADCO@WELL.COM – put the show date in the SUBJECT line and include your name, email address, and phone number in the body of the message.

We’ll pick a winner at random in a couple of days, and then I’ll announce the next giveaway.

PLEASE NOTE that posting a comment here is not going to do you any good. You enter this contest by sending email as outlined above. A comment here is not a contest entry.

Tom Petty interview 11-1-82

October 3rd, 2017

TOM PETTY interview with David Gans 11/1/82
Lookout Management, Los Angeles CA

This is the unedited transcript of the interview I did with Tom Petty on November 1, 1982. He had recently been in court to keep his label from raising the price of LPs starting with his new release.

TAPE 1 Side 1

dg Let’s start with the price of the albums. What’s the new one going to be?

tp $8.98. I think [the hassle over prices] worked out very well.

dg Think it helped?

tp Records aren’t $9.98.

dg Some are.

tp Very few. At the time that happened, I think almost every record was going to go to $9.98. So I think it was very successful. We got a lot of letters–I think it was mainly the people that did that, and the press had a great deal to do with it.

I never really was sure that we’d win that one, but I hoped we would, if for no other reason than I didn’t want to be the guy that brought records up to $9.98. I thought it was … I didn’t want that hung on us, because we had no part of it. That’s how it started, and I was really quite surprised to see that it turned into as big an issue as it did.

dg Just one more of those things that record companies do without consulting the artist–

tp Well, legally they can charge whatever they like for the records. I didn’t really have any rights other than to say, “I’m not going to give you the record.” That was about all I could do. I was happy the way it turned out, so … another battle, another year. [laughs] . I don’ t want to fight with the record company a lot–it really isn’t my idea of a good time …

I’m glad for the record industry that they didn’t raise the price, and I’d even like it if they lowered the price another buck. I think that would be a nice thing to do all around. I don’t know the economics of what’s involved with that, but–

dg It might even make sense …

tp It certainly does to me. I think you’d sell more if you lowered the price. But who knows what goes on in the heads of the record industry?

A lot of people think that I’m against the record industry, but I’m not. I really love it, you know? I really respect it quite a bit. I don’t respect all the people in it, but a lot of the people … that’s never spoken about: a lot of the people are great people, and I really admire them. But I usually just get involved with the wrong ones from time to time [laughs].

dg It’s a little difficult to pull up stakes and move on and find a new crowd to hang out with when you’ve got a contract …

tp Yeah. You just have to let them come to understand you as a person and as an artist– “You can’t do that with us. If you do that with them, fine, but we don’t want you to do it with us.”

dg Your principles were tested pretty hard there for a while.

tp Yeah … I guess so, yeah. They’ve put us through a few tests over the years.

dg And you’re still hangin’ in there and doing it.

tp Yeah.

dg What does it tell you about the state of the industry, the minds at work in it?

tp I don’t think it’s any different than it’s ever been. I’m sure that it’s always been that way. They’ve always tried to do that to artists. These days the artist probably has a better shot than he’s ever had–which still ain’t much.

dg Guys like Elliot Roberts and David Geffen really broke a lot of ground in looking out for their artists–not just in terms of dollars, but creative control …

tp Yeah, they did. I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve always had complete creative control over my records. I really couldn’t work without it–I don’t even understand how you lose creative control. If I lost creative control, I wouldn’t do it. I would only do what I wanted to do, so therefore there’s nothing else on the tape.

dg How do you decide what you’re going to do? The market is out there expecting a certain thing from TP & the Heartbreakers, and there’s a direction you might want to go in–or several directions. How do you figure out exactly how to approach it?

tp Just do it.

dg Instincts?

tp Yeah. There really is nothing else to it. I think if you’re a band and you’re sitting down discussing, “Well, we’d better do it this way because this is what they expect,” you don’t have a band any more. I couldn’t work that way.

I do this for me first. I want to enjoy the music, and I just have to trust that if I enjoy it, so will the fans. It’s not always exactly the same, but I think it’s better than being cautious [laughing] and being too premeditated about it.

dg Or worse, trying to guess what they’re going to want–

tp It’s just silly. You’re supposed to show them. You’re supposed to be hanging your stuff on the wall, so to speak. You don’t send in orders for art–if this is art–you don’t order it up, I don’t think.

dg Or do marketing surveys–

tp I’m not the type that could even deal with a marketing survey, because I realize how much relevance it has to what songs I write and how the band plays, and rock’n’roll records in general. It doesn’t have anything to do with that, as far as I can see.

dg Where do you see yourself in relation to the rest of the industry right now?

tp We’re in a fortunate position now, because we’re pretty much unto ourself. We work and turn the records in, and they put them out. And we have a pretty large say over how that’s handled. So I feel pretty good about it, really. I don’t bear any malice against the record industry at all. I’m a lot wiser these days, and I know how to get around certain lumps in the road that I didn’t know how to get around before, but it’s just taken us a while …

Then as you build a bit more of an audience, they give you a little bit more rope. They tend to think, “Well, they’re not completely insane –he’s not completely off his nut, and he might know what he’s doing.” I don’t think it’s that serious a problem.

I tell you the truth, I never even think about the record industry too much, or at all, unless I’m asked about it or when I do an interview or something [laughing].

dg I stopped at Warner Bros. on the way here to see a friend, and when I said I was coming to see you everybody got really excited. When other record companies are jazzed about an artist–

tp I think that’s very nice that they like the music.

dg They’re waiting to hear the record–even more than some of their own product.

tp That’s great. The last week has been real nice, because we’ve been in the studio off and on for a year (not that we were a year in the studio, but just sporadically) and we never played anything to anyone until we were finished, which is the way we usually work. Now that I’ve played it to my friends and stuff and they seem to like it, it’s a nice feeling, ’cause after a while you start to wonder, “Am I the only one that likes this? [laughs] I wonder if anybody else does.”

dg Does it ever occur to you to play some roughs for a couple of trusted friends–?

tp I’ll do that occasionally, but to actually play your album for somebody when it’s all done and you know you can’t fool with it any more [laughs].

dg When do you make the decision to let it go? Given the freedom you have, you could sit and worry it to death…

tp They ask me that a lot around here [laughing].

dg [laughs] For different reasons, though, than why I’m asking.

tp Yeah … I don’t know. I just go until … usually when Jimmy and I really feel that “this is an album; this is what we wanted to do.” Then it’s done–and that gets harder and harder to do [laughs], because … this year I had such a volume of songs … I’ve never dealt with quite this many tunes. Each time I’d go back to write another song for the album, I’d write three. They would come in spurts. We couldn’t decide, from the acoustic guitar and voice–we’d say, “Wow, we kinda like all of them,” so we’d put everything down, and then we found ourselves in a huge mess about halfway through the year. Stuff was mounting up–“I like this, but I’m tired of this … Is this really good? Is this better?

“Wait, this changes the feel of the album, and this has got to go … ” on and on and on.

dg You’d write another rocker, and that would change the context enough that two ether songs–

tp Yeah, I had a period where I was really into pop music, and I was writing all these pop songs, with piano–real pop, brisk kind of things. When I put like three of them on a side, it changed the tone of the album. I knew pretty well the tone and feel I wanted, and it made it too light and brisk. So I had to pull them all out, and I went through another writing session to put in more stuff.

dg How can you characterize the feel, the tone you were looking for?

tp I wanted a real guitar, rock … more raw kind of tone, I guess, a kind of nighttime sound. I was working from a very loose concept. It’s not really a concept album, but I was working from the rough idea that… I wanted it to be varying styles, but I wanted it to all be a pretty aggressive feel … When it got a little too sweet or too happy, or–ballads was another problem. I didn’t want a lot of ballads, because I did that last album and pretty well got it out of my system for a while. I didn’t want to do a lot of ballads on this album–so of course 1 wrote five or six. [laughs]. But once you’re writing them, what can you do? So we were throwing a lot of stuff into the can until the very end.

dg Oh, down the line we’ll hear Tom Petty’s Closetful of Ballads, eh?

tp [laughs] It wasn’t just ballads. There was all kinds of stuff …I don’t know–I think there’s probably half an album of seriously good stuff. All of it wasn’t … obviously everything isn’t great.

dg Have you ever pulled out stuff from the other sessions and rewritten them … ?

tp No, I never have.

dg Start from scratch every time?

tp Yeah. I like to start from that point, so it’s … I like to change styles a little: bit album to album. I don’t like to do the same sort of feel that we did on the last album. When we did Hard Promises, a lot of people just couldn’t understand why I would deviate from the Damn the Torpedoes kind of thing when it was so successful. But I felt in my mind that if I did quality work, whatever I did would be okay–and it was. [slight laugh] And now I’m glad that I have those kind of songs in the repertoire, that we did do something a little different.

And it comes pretty naturally. When I did Hard Promises, I didn’t realize it was drastically different until nearly … by the time I was stringin’ them up and playin’ them back. I went, “Wow, this is really different.”

dg Neil Young–

tp Yeah, he’s like that.

I think that’s nice. It’s very sad these days that I see .. We’ve only been around five or six years, and I see people start and they get into this frame of mind that … they have one hit record, and the next one’s got to be a bigger hit record, and this incredible pressure comes on them. It really isn’t the way you play this game, I don’t think. You’ve got to break out of that thing and hope that your whole rep doesn’t rise and fall with one album. The longevity of it is all around, you know, offering new things from time to time and taking your audience somewhere–if they’re willing to go.

dg If you have a forum in which to do it–and now you do. If it was your second album, maybe you wouldn’t be able to make such a change.

tp That is a point.

dg Bruce had to have a tremendous power base to be able to do what he did with Nebraska–

tp I really believe he would have done it anyway, though. That’s a great thing that he did there, though, because it does make that point. Just keep your ears open–you might appreciate it…

dg Also, from a career standpoint–looking at it from his side—it takes all the pressure off him to follow up The River.

tp It does take that pressure–I’m sure that isn’t the reason he did it, but it’s nice not to work from that music-biz-pressure point of view. “Get me product and get it to me now and make it sound just like the last one “–that ‘s really what’s hurt the record business more than everything. That, and everyone talking about the record business being hurt probably hurt it, too, because I don’t think it was as severely hurt as all these moaning executives–

dg Well, all those overcoat salesmen that are now running A&R departments… maybe that’s a can of worms we shouldn’t open up.

tp I don’t know much about it, to tell you the truth, what goes on in the A&R sections. I never even dealt with an A&R department–I’ve never even seen one.

I’ve never even been to MCA Records. I’m not knockin’ them [laughs and says it into the microphone to emphasize]–I’m not. I’m sure they’re wonderful people. I don’t even know, and I know they’re doing a good job for me, so I’m not knocking them. But I’m not the type of person that would go … what would I do? Ask the A&R guy what, to do?

I think it’s always been a kind of strange title anyway–“A&R”-because … what does that mean? Artists & Repertoire–you select artists and the songs … that’s kind of dated …

Enough about record companies …

dg I’ve had the good fortune of seeing a couple of really good shows lately … there are a couple of artists that seem able to challenge themselves and their audiences and radio stations … Fleetwood Mac is selling a lot of records and selling out their concerts, and they’re doing something different every time, it seems. I kinda wonder why that example isn’t followed a little more. It sounds like you’re able to do what your heart tells you to, not what the charts tell you. But why are there so many that seem unwilling to take the chance?

tp I don’t know what that is, but it’s usually groups that weren’t very good in the first place, seems to me. Usually the good groups–or records, or whatever–do evolve somewhat. But a lot of it is just kind of formula music that comes again and again and again, the same thing. That’s okay, I guess, if it’s a great song every time. A great song’s a great song, whatever the arrangement is.

I would enjoy it more … I think that the quality of records could be better and that people could be a little more concerned. But then again, a lot of people think–and I understand the thinking–that you shouldn’t make an album for a year, and you shouldn’t deal with it that long–it should be more spontaneous and off the top of your head. I can see that train of thought, too.

dg Ever thought about working all the tunes up and touring them for a few months, then just [snaps fingers] going in and cutting them?

tp I’ve thought about it. I don’t know. I usually work them up in the studio, and if I did that [on the road] I wouldn’t have the advantage of the studio. I don’t look at live performance and records as the same thing at all. I enjoy using the studio, because that’s the only time I get to use it. Live, I’m pretty well relying on the five guys, and in the studio we can use all the advantage of the technology.

dg When you finish the record, do you then re-create that arrangement on the road?

tp We usually take the same basic beat and the same basic rhythm, and that’s about as close as we go on the road. The tunes just evolve on the road–the arrangements change, and it’s a lot more fun doing it that way than just trying to exactly duplicate it. But I like to do it where it’s at least recognizable, so they know it’s that song.

dg You don’t get hemmed in by the audience–by them wanting to hear what they heard at home?

tp They hear it close enough to what they hear at home. It’s not that different. I think they actually enjoy it, because they get a little more than they got on the record, usually–or a little different slant. But I like to keep the songs in the format of … You know how like when you’re jamming and things are very spontaneous, and they flow, when there is no structure … We know what the structure is, we know how the chords go and where the beat goes, and then from there on, “let’s work within that. Let’s let the guitars be free to do what they want…” Sometimes you want to do it like the record, because sometimes it works best that way.

dg You try and keep yourselves interested as musicians–

tp Exactly. Especially when you’ve been playing a song year after year after year. You want to do something to it.

When I go to see somebody, I want to see the hits, and I want it to be done where it’s pretty familiar to me. I don’t want to hear a rocker done as a ballad, or something as drastic as that.

dg I saw Bob Dylan’s post-Budokan tour–

tp I saw that.

dg He had rearranged a lot of tunes at random, like “Disco Tambourine Man … ” Did you get that impression?

tp I just didn’t enjoy the arrangements. I thought, “I’d rather have just heard you do it with your guitar.” It wasn’t taking it anywhere.

dg It seemed like he had no respect at all for his own history.

tp Yeah, I’m glad he’s past that stage.

dg But when I mentioned [forsaking your past] to Neil Young, he said, “I’m done with it–I don’t need it any more. Throw it out the window.”

tp You can look at it that way if you want, but I enjoy playing the songs. I don’t mind … I think pretty much I like them the same way the audience does. I want to hear it right–I don’t really want to hear it with trumpets or anything.

dg It sort of gets beyond being your tune, and it’s just there–

tp But I guess if you’ve been around as long as Bob Dylan, who knows where your mind wanders? He’s written a lot of songs.

dg You said you wrote a lot for this album. Do you generally write a lot?

tp This year I wrote more than I usually ever have written, and it was just strange because I would have periods of not writing–and then when I would write, I’d get four or five things. It was just bursts.

We’d usually have four or five songs, and we’d go in the studio and cut them then take a break for a month or two, then we’d come back and I’d have another five songs, and we I just kept going like that.

dg Do you set aside some time, like “I’m going to write for two weeks in March”?

tp I’ve tried to do that, but it’s pretty strange to go into a room every day and sit down and go, “Okay.” You kind of have to wait til you’re in the mood, or whatever. I just got where I could write very fast this year. I’d write one, and it’d be done … Ideas were flowing real good, so …

dg Did you ever get that feeling that if you planned to go to Barbados for two weeks, that would be when the inspiration would hit?

tp [ laughs] .

dg If you want to write, then schedule something real challenging and elaborate, because Murphy’s law would dictate that’s when all the tunes would come.

tp Yeah. They don’t come on the road that often, though. People ask me a lot, “Do you write songs on the tours?” And it’s very seldom, because usually at the end of the day you just don’t feel like trying to write a song. I might feel like playing, but I never feel like bearing down hard enough to get the song out.

dg Is there a lot of hard work involved in them?

tp Well, it’s different song to song. Some come very quickly, and some if the idea seems strong enough, if it’s something that I have some fascination with then I’ll follow a tune for weeks until it turns into what I want. Sometimes you follow a tune for weeks and it won’t turn into anything. There’s just no formula for writing . It’s such an intangible thing, anyway. But I enjoy it.

dg If there’s a point you’re trying to make, and you’ve got like four or five different songs up on various racks, do you occasionally take the chorus from one and the bridge from another and try them together–?

tp Oh, yeah. They’re all modular. Every song is modular. If you need a middle eight, you can pull it outa here–if it fits … Sometimes it just works great, you go “Wow … if I’d written this bridge this month, I wouldn’t have written it the same way I wrote it four months ago.” So they’re all modular.

dg Somewhere there’s a junkyard of pieces of Petty songs that haven’t been used–

tp Oh, yeah, all over the place–

dg A spare parts warehouse.

tp Yeah.

dg Let’s talk about producing records. How did you get started with Jimmy [Iovine]?

tp Let’s see … cast our minds back … It was about ’78, I guess. I met Jimmy when I heard “Because the Night” on the radio [Patti Smith]. I really liked the sound … He also worked on the Lennon Rock And Roll album and Walls and Bridges, and I liked both of those records a lot.

dg Did he engineer those?

tp I think he did some of the engineering … Him and Shelly Yakus. I wasn’t really familiar with Jimmy, and I heard “Because the Night,” and I was at the point where I wanted to change sounds, because I’d done two records that sounded pretty much the same to me, and so I wanted to move on somewhere else. By coincidence, Jimmy called Denny [Cordell] and just asked him ‘what’s going on with Tom, ’cause I’d really like to do it.’ I think the only record he’d produced at that time was Patti’s–“Because the Night.”

For some strange reason, sight unseen I said, “Okay, let’s do it.” I was just in a [laughs] strange frame of mind at that time. I’d never met him or anything. Denny, whose opinion I respect a lot, said to me, “I talked to him on the phone, and the guy’s really a rocker. I can tell. If it don’t work, we’ll call it off, but I would do it if I were you.”

I thought, “Well, okay, let’s do it.” It’s funny now, ’cause now he’s like my closest friend in the world, for years.

We hit it off very good from the first day we met. We’re a lot alike. We went to work on the album, went through all the lawsuits [laugh], a good ten months of that, and ever since then we’ve been working together.

dg All through that time you were suing, threatening bankruptcy, juggling record companies, you were trying to make a record at the same time?

tp Oh, yeah. The record actually started before that happened.

dg It must have been hard to concentrate.

tp Oh …. I could write a book. I don’t even like to talk about those days much, ’cause I’ve talked about it so much–the story’s been told so many times. It was something to go through. I think that after Jimmy went through that with us, you’re kind of like blood brothers …

dg He wasn’t involved with you anywhere except the record, right? So

tp He wasn’t going to court, but he was suffering greatly, because we were all in love with this record.

dg You could be working on that, and that was going fine no matter what else was happening? That would be a great place to forge a friendship.

tp He had amazing strength … He’s an amazing guy. I hate to even say it, ’cause I have to live with him [laughs] … Jimmy Iovine, I’m sure he’s one of the only real record producers there is that actually knows how to make a record and produce a record, and cares about the record and works on records that he likes.

dg He doesn’t work on records that he doesn’t like–

tp No. And he brings something out of the artist. There’s only four or five of those.

dg Who are the other ones?

tp I’ll tell you the ones I think. I think George Martin brings something out of the artist and contributes to the record. Spector, obviously, was a great producer that knew how to make records–don’t know what he does now–

dg Spector, though, added a great deal–

tp Spector was an artist, so it’s not really the same thing.

I think that Tom Dowd is a very good producer. What he did with Eddie Money … When you hear the difference … I’m not that familiar with Eddie Money, but from the songs I hear on the radio I can tell the difference immediately … how energetic that sounds, and sure enough it was Tom Dowd …

I haven’t worked with that many, but I’ve seen a lot that ain’t got nothing going on, that are just useless people in the room and actually, I think, work to the detriment of the [laughs] project a lot of the time.
Jimmy really knows his craft and his job, and even as close as we are he keeps me in line.

dg How so?

tp It’d be very easy for me to go in and produce the records without anyone and have no one to argue with

… whereas Jimmy will question me til the cows come home. If he don’t like it, I almost have to picket. It’s not like it’s off the record, or we’re not going to use it–it’s like, “I don’t like it.” Once one of us doesn’t like something that’s going on, it’s hard to even sit in that room–

dg He keeps you from bullshitting yourself, or settling for something that’s a little less–

tp Yeah, absolutely. Especially settling. He’ll push me and push me and push me and push me, to the point where it’s ridiculous, sometimes. I’ve seen him do it with other artists that he works with, too. I hate to even say it, because he’s going to carry this around to every studio [laughs], but he’s usually always right. Sometimes he’s wrong, and he’ll admit it–but he’s usually always right.

dg Is that true for you too, that when you’re wrong you’ll admit it?

tp I’m pretty good about it, yeah. I’ll admit it if I’m wrong. Just because … having an ego like that in the control room, or in the studio, at a session is just a waste of time. You can just get on with it, you know? You can just get right on to what you’re doing–you don’t have to have that big an ego about it, unless you’re really sure. In the studio, it’s a very simple thing: if one guy feels one way and another guy feels another way, then it’s very simple to do both immediately and then listen. Then you know immediately–” Is this better or is that better?”

dg Have you ever gone all the way to the wall with him?

tp I’m sure I have …

dg –come to blows?

tp We wouldn’t come to blows–

dg I don’t mean literally–

tp We’ve had fits, throwing things and stomping … I don’t think we ever get that childlike about it–we’re fairly realistic about it, you know. There’s no reason to fight–it’s just a record.

dg So he knows how to get sounds, but he knows about sounds and arrangements and feel and lyrics, too?

tp Yeah. I think sounds is mostly Shelly Yakus, our engineer. He deals with sounds–Neither one of us likes to even be bothered with it very much.

dg You’re sitting there in the room playing–

tp I’ll tell him, “Shelly , that doesn’t sound right. I want it to sound more like this,” and he deals with all that [mike placement, etc.]

dg Didn’t Jimmy start out engineering?

tp Yeah … It’s easier for Jim if he concentrates on the songs and the arrangements, things like that, if he’s [not] leaning over the board trying to get a sound. I think he enjoys it more if he has Shelly doing it, and Shelly’s just so good and so thorough. I don’t question whether the sound’s going to work later when I want to mix it or put it on a disc. If you notice, when I work with them it’s a different sound than when they work on their own somewhat … I think it’s just at times that the sound will maybe get too good for me–

dg You want to garbage it up–

tp There’s times when I say “I think it sounds too good; let’s back up.” They see that. We just go by the character of each track– “We want this track to have this character, this texture.” Those are the only real guidelines that we use, and the rest is just up in the air.

It’s a lot of experiment, too. “Ben, play that organ,” or “Let’s pull this thing out and play it,” whatever goes on. We have a lot of fun, really. We probably spend way too much money [laughing] … but we really have a lot of fun. We try everything and play around.

dg How does the rest of the band fit into the format? Are they as much a part of the creative argument?

tp Oh, yeah, absolutely. It is a group–everyone has their say … We don’t talk about it much–we never have–we just do it. We just start playing, and we naturally fall into something. We might say, “No, we want to change it,” but we don’t ever really sit and discuss it much. Anybody that has an idea, we usually just try it. If somebody feels very strongly, “I think I should do this,” we do a take like that and then listen. If it’s better he’s on; if it’s not, he’s off.

dg So if anybody from any particular corner of the studio has a real strong feeling either way, it’ll get heard, dealt with …

tp Yeah. It’s real fast; you can do it real fast. If you shut somebody off, then they don’t feel like part of the session.

dg I got the impression that you and Stan went at it a couple of times back during the hassles. There’s something in one of the stories I read about him quitting and coming back and quitting and coming back.

tp Yeah, we go at it all the time. But … that’s just part of Stan’s temperament–he’s a very high-strung guy, and when you’re working under that kind of … Being a drummer in a session is like being a pitcher on a baseball team: it’s always your fault. Whatever’s wrong, it’s your fault–it’s the rhythm section, right? And I tell you, there aren’t many people that could live through an album with me and Jimmy, because we tend to push people very hard, and we’re not what you’d call polite. We will say exactly what’s on our mind. It’s not meant to be rude–it’s meant to just get on with things, you know? I might say “No , I don’t like that–that’s no good. Play this,” and sometimes somebody might think, “He just insulted me,” but the people that know us know really that we’re just wanting to get on with it, and that if I’m not really sure I wouldn’t say it. But sometimes it’s hard, you know. When you get under all that pressure, it’s easy to blow up and leave a session, throw things down after you’ve been playing a song for three days …

dg The flip side of that coin is that you have to indicate your level of respect for those people–

tp Absolutely. I respect the group more than anything. It’s such a great group–I still, to this day when I play with them I feel really fortunate that I can work with people like Benmont Tench … even though I’ve worked with him all my life, he’s just an amazing musician, the cream of the crop. Michael … all of them. They know I respect them …

But we work more as a group … I don’t think they look at it like it’s TP’ s thing and he’s ordering everyone around that much. No one is hesitant to say what’s on their mind.

dg So regardless of the fact that the girls chase after you … have your picture up on the wall, it’s a band as far as you’re concerned?

tp Yeah. I mean, obviously it’s me and them, just because that’s the way life’s turned out, you know … the girls chase them, too [laughs]. I don’t think there’s any … we don’t have a lot of arguments about that, about who got their picture Where, or whatever.

dg It’s not billing– “Tom’s got top billing–fuck him.”

tp That’d be a pretty stupid thing to say, wouldn’t it?

dg I don’t know–I’ve been around bands where–not any kind of professional stature–

tp [laughs]

dg –okay, I think I just answered my own question.

tp You work all that out. You work all that out, and by the time … We had to decide that we want to keep this band together. There’s an art to staying together for five years, a real art to it. It’s a little give-and-take, but it’s worth it. We just really see ourselves as musicians, more than anything. I guess everybody says that, but that’s really what–we don’t see ourselves as personalities, or anything else–just musicians. Very good ones. What I really want to do is try to make a sound, and improve on it–which is hopefully what we’re doing.

dg How much talking did you do … considering you’ve all known each other for years and years, how much understanding is there about the sound? There are common roots, obviously, between musicians, understandings that you have from when you were kids playing covers in bars. How much of that conceptual stuff did you guys go over when you put the band together?

tp Well, like again, it wasn’t something we had to discuss, because we were all from the same place and had played almost all the same bars–and a lot of it when the same people. So our musical tastes are pretty close.

dg You didn’t come out sounding like Don Felder, nor the Allman Brothers.

tp No, but they’re older than us. They were from the generation of bands that … They left town years before we did, and I think they were more into blues and took the blues thing really seriously. I think they did it excellently, but I wanted to deal with songs. It was real frustrating to me back then, because I loved the Allman Brothers, but our group… We wanted to write three-minute songs and learn how to write a good tune more than how to playa good solo. So it was kind of difficult in the South for a while, because–even though we’ are a Southern band–I don’t think we’re the stereotype Southern band.

dg Were you going to places where they expected 20-minute solos?

tp Yeah, and we’d do it if we had to. We’d play 20 minutes of blues for them, but it wasn’t what we really wanted to do.

dg That’s a switch. The legend is, “Give me three-minute tunes,” and everybody wanted to stretch and play forever. Here you are doing the opposite.

tp Yeah, well I think now we stretch more [laughs]–now we [ ? ] back to guitar solos, but … at that time we were really into writing short, concise tunes–which nobody was doing. I remember the first album, people thinking it very strange that the songs were, a lot of them, under three minutes and over with pretty fast.

dg The only ones doing that were the heavy punkers–

tp Yeah, which all happened for some strange reason at the exact same time. That year, everyone showed up with songs again–thank heaven.

dg You got lumped in with that crowd a little bit, didn’t you? That must have been a little hard to deal with.

tp It’s hard, because when you’ve got your first record you so desperately want everyone to understand it–and you, right? I think it freaked us out a little bit that we would be misconstrued. We never had anything against the punks–as a matter of fact, we enjoyed it.

dg You played a lot of the same clubs in San Francisco–

tp Yeah, and we played on the same bills–here and in England. And we were in England when that was all happening, and the Pistols were big. We loved it–I thought it was great–but it wasn’t us. It wasn’t what we … we wouldn’t take credit for it … We were very American, into sort of traditional American music. That was our base then. So it really wasn’t us, but it was like a high-powered rock band that wrote songs, so it all fit in. So actually in the end, I think we were more proud of that than pissed off about it. It was a better crowd to be lumped in with than some of the others I could think of.

dg At least it was somebody that was doing something.

tp Yeah, at least we were lumped into a free-thinking audience, an open-minded atmosphere. But we never went and tried to write buzzsaw songs and be overtly political, or anything.

dg Cultivate an audience that would spit at you to show their appreciation–

tp Yeah, we never wanted that [laughter].

dg What was your initial childhood push to get into music?

tp Elvis.

dg I read someplace that they were shooting Follow That Dream near where you lived–

tp Yeah. I went down and saw that, and got interested in Elvis, and started rounding up all the records I could at a pretty young age.

dg How young?

tp 11.

dg Had you not played music before that?

tp No. I didn’t play it then–I didn’t play until I was 14, 14 ½. Ever since … Once the ghost gets in you, it don’t get out, I guess, ’cause that’s all I’ve done since then. I’m still pretty consumed by music.

dg You never had any other career plans?

tp Oh, no–just to avoid work as much as possible.

dg And here you are working your ass off on music.

tp Yeah, but that’s not really like work. There is work, and all that …I used to work–I know what real work is, ’cause I had jobs, too. I was fired from every job I ever had–except this one. And I may get fired from it, I don’t know.

It ain’t like having a job, you know? As much as I can complain and say I’m tired, it ain’t–it is work, but it’s fun, too. It’s a let of fun. If it wasn’t that much fun, there wouldn’t be any inclination to do it. Sometimes it can be such a pain in the ass, but the payoff is so big and the fun is so enormous that it kind of balances things out, I think. I just try to dwell on all the positive aspects of playing in a rock band.

dg There’s a recurring theme, though, of overcoming odds and conquering the temptation to get bitter. Mikal Gilmore’s story [in Rolling Stone] mentioned the “American Girl” as a recurring character in your songs… There’s also that triumph-against-the-odds theme, especially on the last couple of albums … Aren’t you ready to relax yet?

tp [laughs]. I wish I could, but I can’t … I can’t quite get at peace with things, and I think [laughs–he’s obviously amused and pleased by the question] I think if I did get peaceful, probably it wouldn’t be that interesting, but … I can still get angry, yeah. I still get angry.

dg Well, we wouldn’t want you to get too happy, and numb, or anything.

tp I don’t know. Michael Campbell always tells me that I attract trouble, but … [laughs] … he says, “You just attract trouble.”

dg What kind of trouble can a man of your station get into now?

tp Oh, man, we can get into trouble. I don’t even want to talk about it. There’s two things that we can constantly do without even trying: spend money and stay in trouble. [laughter]

I don’t know … I never look at it as fighting the world and the songs convey that, but I guess they do. But it’s good to have that, you know, in the songs. It’s good to have something … I hope to inspire. That’s our aim with this music. The highest achievement it can have is to inspire people, to lift them up. I would feel terrible if it dragged them down …

dg No Nebraskas coming from you, eh?

tp I’m not knockin’ Nebraska, but … I think Hard Promises was kind of a down album, and dealt with some morbid sides of things and stuff. I think it was a little morose, but it was intentionally so. This album’s not.

I really enjoyed that album. I think it’s some of my favorite stuff I ever did.

dg Were you working on that at the same time as Stevie’s album? I read somewhere that she ended up with “Stop Draggin'” and you got “The Insider,” but it started out the other way.
tp Yeah. I wanted “Insider” on my album, because it had a lot to do with the album, and it was important that it be there.

dg Worked out great for both parties …

tp It really did. I’m real proud of those duets, that they came off as well as they did. We didn’t work long hours, but we were really into it and we worked hard to make it good.

dg How did Stevie fit into that creative … I would imagine, given the intensity and tightness and expedience of your relationship with Jimmy and Shelly that having to slow down to take her along might have been interesting …

tp [slight laugh] I’d known Stevie for a while before I started working with her. It was at times intense, and … We can butt heads and argue, but I think we want the same things usually. We’re actually pretty close friends, too. I think a lot of Stevie. But it was difficult, because she works in such a drastically different style than we do. But I think she enjoyed it, and she had fun.

Yeah, I’m real proud of those records. I’m glad they came out so well … I was doing that and the Del Shannon album at the same time. [laughs] I was really studio’d out. I was there all the time at some session.

dg Were they going on the same night sometimes?

tp No, I wouldn’t do that. But we would do Heartbreakers stuff and then at the end of the session do Stevie’s stuff sometimes, just work on tracks that were already done. But we never really did the tracking dates at the same time …

dg … accountant in the back going, “That’s Stevie time, that’s Heartbreaker s time … ”

tp [laughs] Yeah …

dg To briefly go back to the record-industry thing … Del’s album didn’t do as well as it should have done …

tp It was a very ethnic album, or maybe ethnic’s the wrong word. I think it was a very pure album; it wasn’t a flashy kind of thing. My involvement with Del was, I really wanted to record what he was doing at that time. I wanted him to write the songs, not me. I wanted to stay out of the picture as much as possible and just try to help Del get his ideas on the tape. It wasn’t what you’d call an AOR album–I thought it was, but they didn’t. The single did pretty well–I think it went up into the high 20s, which made Del happy and was good for him … I think he did a great job. I wish that I’d had more time to work with him, because there were more and more songs coming along as the album progressed.

dg So you’re not really blaming anybody for that thing not going …

tp I don’t know who to blame. Some go and some don’t, you know? I was just glad to see him get a record deal again and get back working again and get out playing, because he’s such a wonderful guy and a real craftsman at what he does. He sure taught me a lot, you know, just going through the experience with him. He’s such a sincere guy; he really wanted to make a good, honest record. We did it extremely fast. It took us a year, but we only worked two days every few months [laughs]. I think we spent maybe four or six weeks altogether on that record.

I’d really like to see him come back and have a smash, though.

dg Is he going to make another album soon?

tp I’m sure he will.

dg Is Network keeping him?

tp I don’t know.

dg Are you planning on producing him again?

tp Unfortunately, I can’t produce anybody because I’m going on a tour for the rest of the year, pretty much. I’m going to do Europe, and then come back and do America.

dg When are you hitting the states?

tp The middle of January, or late in January.

I get a lot of people asking me to do production, and I’d love to do it, but I feel like … Even with Del’s album, my time was so limited that I would go to him and say, “I feel guilty; I feel like I should be here more and we should be putting a little more time in.”

He’d say, “No, this is the way we used to do it. Let’s just put it down and … y’know, get it down.” If I produce an album I want to be able to give it 100% of my attention all the time.

dg Was he a particular hero of yours in the early days?

tp Well, I liked all his records, all those great singles he put out–“Stranger In Town,” “Keep Searchin’,” and all that stuff, “Hats Off to Larry”–you can go on and on. Yeah, he was amazing. He still is … real goad songwriter, too.

dg Who would you list as your major influences, the most influential?

tp Answering that question is hard, because there’s so many that I’ll leave somebody out, I’m sure. I listen to so many records.

dg Everybody incorporates little bits of things here and there, but there’ s got to be a couple that had they not lived your whole persona would be totally different.

tp There’s Elvis, of course, …and in that “had they not lived” category you’d have to have The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, soul music in general–Stax, all that stuff … but there’s so many. The Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison I just loved … all the English bands–The Hollies, the Animals.

dg Did you learn all their stuff?

tp Oh, yeah. We played it. [laughs] That was what you had to play–Zombies, Yardbirds–all those great bands.

dg When did you start writing?

tp I think I might have tried a tune here and there, but it was about ’68 when I first really tried to write something–’68, ’69.

dg How did it turn out?

tp Oh, awful. The first songs I wrote were really embarrassing.

dg Who were you trying to sound like at that point?

tp Probably whoever was on the radio at that point, probably Neil Young–

dg Doors?

tp Yeah, the Doors … Then I went into a strong country phase. Around 1970, I got really into country intensely.

dg Don’t hear a whole lot of that in your sound now.

tp No, I’ve never really let it come through. We do a lot of country tracks … I guess “Louisiana Rain” got on a record, but most of them don’t go on the records.

dg Get ’em out of your system and keep them in the can?

tp Yeah, kinda. I’d really like to do a country album sometime. They’d probably faint if they heard me say that–don’t tell Tony [Dimitriades] [laughter]. I’d like to do one sometime, but I’m more interested in doing rock’n’roll stuff right now, ’cause I want to go on a tour and I want to have a lot of rock’n’roll songs to play.

I do wish that … the audience in America sometimes is a little narrow [as to] what they want to accept and deal with. I would like to see them understand … That was the first music I ever heard in my house-country. I used to always kinda reject it as my parents’ music …

I remember when I got the Byrds album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo. It was like, “Wow, listen to this! They’re playing country music!” That was the first time I ever heard Gram Parsons, and it was really good [laughs]. Then I started to realize that there was no reason to be afraid of the music, and eventually I realized it’s exactly the same thing as rock and soul music–the exact same thing. So I went through a little phase with country, and then I got a little bored with it. We couldn’t get any gigs because we had long hair. You’d go to the country bars–and even then they wanted to hear the country Top Ten, and we’d be doing standards and traditional songs. So after a while I got bored and wanted to go back and play loud. But it’s great, you know?

dg You just wouldn’t feel comfortable springing a country tune on your crowd now, huh?

tp I’ve done it before. Sometimes on the road … Last year we played bluegrass songs in the middle of the show.

dg The Cow Palace show–

tp … That was probably early in the tour …

dg So things get a little looser and more comfortable as–

tp Yeah, I think we grew a lot in performance -last year. By the end of that tour the band was a mean machine. I could try anything I wanted and the band could pull it off. It was so much fun.

It always seems like just when you’re getting really good the tour’s over.

dg That would be an argument for longer tours.

tp Yeah. I’m anxious to play live, ’cause it’s been a year … It’s nice to have been off the road for a year, ’cause we’d been out there for a pretty good while. Now I think I could really appreciate it.

dg How long are you going to be out for?

tp I don’ t know– long as I can go. I’d like to go for a pretty good while.

dg What about your throat?

tp We’ll see, you know, how much the throat can take … We’ve had to go to where we don’t do more than three days in a row, because historically my throat won’t hang in there. But last year I didn’t have any trouble at all until the very last week of the tour. We didn’t miss a show, and everything was fine—and then the very last week of the tour I just started disintegrating.

dg Did you make it through?

tp Well, they knocked three gigs off the end, because the doctor said “You’re gonna have nodes on your vocal chords if you push it very far.”

dg Take any voice training … ?

tp [shakes head] … Just go out there and scream [laughs]

dg And keep on smoking cigarettes in the face of it–

tp Well, what are you gonna do? I mean, you can’t live like a deacon because your throat hurts.

dg There’s another thing in one of the stories I read, a quote about it being “Just rock and roll,” by way of explaining that it wasn’t necessary for all the songs to be profound, deep and important … But I got the feeling from the story that maybe the writer was overplaying that particular point–

tp –maybe a bit–

dg Because earlier you said something about hoping that music inspires people. What can you say about the importance of music in people’s lives and what you’d like to be saying to them?

tp Well, I don’t want to constantly tell them one thing over and over. What I meant by that is that you can’t be concerned with each song you’re writing being an epic and a classic and a great–you know, “Here’s another classic for the masses.” I don’t think that’s the attitude of rock’n’roll. I think that’s more the attitude of a college student … I don’t think that you could do “Tutti Frutti” these days and really get a good review on it, lyrically.

dg And yet that’s a classic.

tp Yeah, and it probably lifts you higher than a lot of really nicely done poems. “Wop bop a-lu-bop … ” says a lot to me, just that feel. I want to be free to write “Tutti Frutti” as well as “American Girl.” I don’t want to say that I’ve got to write like this, or that it’s got to be heavy–


Tape 2 Side 1

dg … but there’s room for … messages and meaning … and …

tp oh yeah, sure. I just … I don’t like songs where the message is too clear … you know, when the message is too … uh … when the message is pounded into your brain, you know. Like … a message song, you know. I like it where you can take it on. I like to use love songs mostly as some sort of common denominator. But you know just to kind of … you can take it on that level and other things, you know, other thing can be gleaned from the song, too. That you can kind of appreciate it on a number of levels. Those are the songs I tend to stay with the longest over a period of time and then go ‘tack and enjoy later and stuff. And if they do take on a spiritual aura you know and sort of an anthemish quality then that’s great, but you can’t honestly sit down and set out to do that … I can’t. I don’t mean anyone can’t but I mean, I can’t sit down and … if I thought about it I would feel a little overly premeditated about what I was doing.

dg Like. “I’m going to sit down and write a profound number now.”

tp Yeah, I’d feel a little silly doing that.

dg Yeah. You get a little self-important

tp Yeah, the band would laugh at me immediately if I did that.

dg Ah, that’s something I was going to ask you about. Those guys tend … musicians tend to keep each other honest in that way, so you just can’t …

tp Oh, he look, they’ll say. “Look, that’s a piece of shit.” They’ll say that immediately.

dg But you knew that already when you tried to bring it in.

tp Usually, you know. And if somebody goes, ”No, that’s a piece of shit, that’s not right” or “you’ve got better songs than that. Let’s do something else. Let’s do ‘Louie. Louie’.”

dg You did “Louie, Louie” at the US Festival.

tp Yeah, we did

dg Was that a spontaneous choice?

tp It actually was, yeah.

dg I was very surprised. I was chasing around that night. I didn’t catch a whole lot of the set because I was .. uh .. suddenly informed I could come up and take pictures. The mechanics of getting to take pictures meant missing a good portion of the set waiting for your escort under the stage, missing a whole lot of shit down there, getting up there and the strange thing is, for being fifteen feet away from the stage and the performers you don’t hear a fucking thing because there’s a million photographers elbowing you, “get out of my way,” you know. Trying to get an angle. So I missed more of the set than I wanted to by virtue of getting, you know, photo angles and stuff. But I did, I caught that “Louie Louie”. I was pretty surprised.

tp That was a lot of fun. I just saw the tape back of that thing … the film. And “Louie, Louie,” I really liked it, you know. You can see us discussing it there for a minute. (Laughs) Like, what, what are we playing?

dg Like, are we really going to play this?

tp That was a lot of fun, it came out good.

dg How was the rest of the event for you?

tp I had a great time. Um, I don’t know what the implication of the festival were, really. Because I was only there a few hours. But, uh, you know, what an audience. It was a great night.

dg Was that the biggest crowd you ever played?

tp I think it was. It was about 250 that night … or 210 or something. Yeah, that was probably the biggest single one …

dg Yeah you and Benatar saw the biggest crowds. It peaked for Saturday night’s show.

tp It was really a lot of fun. That was all I can say about it. It was, the audience was more than wonderful. You know, just a lot of energy. I was surprised really that that late at night, being the last band on after 20 or 30 bands, whoever all played that day. I thought, boy, you know, they’re probably going to be really beat, you know, in that sun all day and stuff. But they were right there.

dg By the time you came on. In fact, I noted it. I wrote it down in my notebook. By the time you came on, you see, it was actually chilly. Not cold, but for the first time in forty-eight hours I wasn’t sweating.

tp ’cause I wasn’t, uh …

dg … like a little breeze coming across for the first time.

tp We were really comfortable on stage. Except for the dust was a real problem. There was a lot of dust in the air and as the show went I kept breathing more of that dust and I just couldn’t get enough water and by the end I had lost my voice. By the last song I couldn’t really sing that well. And I think that If I’d had a gig the next day … I know Stevie got real sick from all the dust and they had gigs they had to postpone and stuff. If I’d had a gig the next day I’d have been in trouble. That was great for us because it was the first time out of the studio in a year.

dg Then, the Santa Cruz gig was, what, two nights before?

tp Yeah.

dg What was that like? 2,000 raving maniacs?

tp That was great. We were there for two days in Santa Cruz and, you know it was just a little warm-up to get ready for the big festival.

dg Why Santa Cruz?

tp Well, we had played there years ago. I guess maybe three years before and really … We played there a couple of times and really had a good time. Just really enjoyed it. You know, it was on the beach and the hotel is comfortable and the hall is a nice intimate hall. You know, its kind of like a little Civic Center that hold like 2,000.

dg I saw The Band there in ’76. It was tremendous.

tp Yeah. Boy, I mean, we had a great time. We just went down and had a juggler open up and … there wasn’t room to set up two bands. The guy was actually good; he went down really well.

dg Why, I mean the logistics and economics of Santa Cruz, California. It seems to me … the truckers must have hated you.

tp Well, I had to go somewhere. We didn’t want to …

dg Couldn’t you have done the Santa Monica Civic or something?

tp ‘Cause I didn’t want to play in Los Angeles to warm up because then everyone reviews you and has no mercy at all. And we hadn’t even been on a stage in a year.

dg I see, so it had to be no major market at all. Wouldn’t have played in San Francisco …

tp Yeah, there would have been pressure us. And it turned out that we got reviewed and everything anyway, but I mean … it was a conscious attempt to … kina of … let’s go out into the woods and just play for a couple of days because we haven’t done it in a year, and that’s really … it would be strange to walk in front of 250,000 and just … a whole new experience unfolds. So, we did … I think we had as much fun there as the big gig, though. The first night was real rough but a lot of energy. (Laughs) and then the next night really started to come around.

dg The first night, was it just like a sound check for people, or, you didn’t play two shows and sell tickets for it?

tp Yeah, we played two shows. Yeah, yeah, we played two nights.

dg Shit. I don’t know why I never even heard about it.

tp Well, we kept it kind of low profile and the tickets sold very fast and it was just … there was no more ads…

dg You didn’t put them on the computer system here? ‘Cause, I mean, I live close enough to Santa Cruz that I should have heard about it.

tp No, I think they sold them right there in Santa Cruz or something.

dg Probably. It doesn’t take long to sell 2,000 tickets to a big show like that.

tp I was just a lot of fun. It was a good place to go for a weekend and just get back into playing.

dg How much, uh … how different was it breaking in Howie? How has it changed …

tp (Laughs) You know, Howie, ah. He’s so great, you know? He’s a good bass player, man. That’s what he is, he’s a good bass player The main difference I think that you notice in seeing us now is that we sing a little because he’s a good singer with a real good high harmony. And it did beef up our harmonies a lot. But we never really gave him much a shot to rehearse or anything we just…we’d just say, “Howie, we’re gonna play Listen to Her Heart,” and then we ran through the stuff and he knew it really better than we did. You know, because we still make mistakes and stuff, but Howie would know all the changes and stuff from the records. I guess he just went over tapes and records and … but we had never auditioned, or … like, I knew Howie from Del Shannon’s band and, uh, he just came into the studio and started the album, when it dove right into this madness. So by the time we played the US Festival Howie’d been with us a year.

dg Ah, so he already … the temperaments and stuff … he already …

tp Oh, yeah, he’d been around for a year in the studio.

dg When you lost Ron, then … or when Ron lost you guys, or whatever happened, was it you knew instantly this guy would be your replacement?

tp Yeah, it was a pretty quick decision. It was like, well let’s call Howie and see if he wants to do it.

dg Is there any comment you’d care to make on that change?

tp On Ron? Yeah, I mean, it was a perfectly amicable … I know everyone always says it was amicable, but it was. There wasn’t any argument or fight about it. He just didn’t want to tour anymore and, he called me and he was very nice, you know. He said. “Man, you know, I have no grudge or anything, but I just can’t get on that bus again, you know. I just want to kind of get out of the music business.”

dg So what’s he doing?

tp Um. He bought a clothing shop and I think he’s like working on some stuff to make a record; to make a solo record or something. And, he’s just basically taking it easy and living off his store.

dg Well how much of a blow was it to the Heartbreakers, to the band?

tp Emotionally it was a blow because we all, you know, really loved him, because he’s been, you know, because when you’re that close to somebody for a long time … So emotionally it was a blow but musically he’d been drifting away for so long that it wasn’t a big change, because, I mean, he’d lost interest. And so the sessions, it didn’t change a lot of the sessions because a lot of times Ron wasn’t there, and I’d play the bass or Michael would play the bass. And so, it just, you know, I think emotionally it was a little sad because we missed him.

dg Well, I guess what I’m looking for is, you know, you start with five gators and you end up with another guy instead. It’s like a totally different kind of person; a guy who’s not in on all the same old jokes from North Florida, you know, and the same .. it’s just not the same kind of person.

tp Well, fortunately, Howie, I mean I think that had a lot to do with him being selected; he had the sort of temperament that was the .. that was very important, you know, that he was somebody we could hang with and feel like he’s one of us.

dg Does he have the same kind of musical roots?

tp Yeah he does.

dg … cover the same … he could play “Louie, Louie” without ever having played it before? Well, I mean, who couldn’t? But I mean, there’s lots of other off the wall tunes you guys have done.

tp Pretty close, pretty damn close. And I didn’t know that at the time that the roots are pretty much the same as far as what he likes. And we hit it off real well. And he’s smart because he’s not the kind of person who came in and really rammed, or tried to push his views on us. He was just kind of quiet for a while and I think he spent a little while checking everyone out before he opened up much.

dg Sounds like a wise way to handle your entry into a new situation.

tp Yeah, its just like you meet a new group of people you don’t really try to take over the scene. And some musicians would.

dg Out of insecurity of not being …

tp Yeah, out of insecurity.

dg Get loud.

tp Yeah, get loud. Try to prove themselves again and again. And for diving into this mess he did real well.

dg If he was the kind of guy who would have gotten loud he probably wouldn’t have been the kind of guy you would have chosen in the first place.

tp Yeah.

dg So, its all so experiential?

Let’s talk a little bit about songs. Getting back to that question about messages and profundity and all. There are some songs of yours that, like it or not, are, I think, are classics.

tp Oh, thanks. Oh, I love it. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m not embarrassed by it. I think it’s wonderful.

dg We all want to go down in history one way or another.

tp Oh sure, I mean I don’t even pretend to be that noble. But I’m just saying that when I write them, I try to write them fairly honestly. I mean, I don’t want to take it so serious that I think everything I do is great art. There’s nothing more boring than some songwriter who thinks everything he’s done is worth remembering and being played again and again. But, yeah, I’m glad you think that. Thanks a lot.

dg But the flavor of the songs … Again, the new stuff, I haven’t had a chance to really get to know the tunes as well as I know your earlier stuff, of course. There doesn’t seem to be, how do I put it? “Breakdown”, it just sort of eases in from nowhere just about. Every instrument is just spare and just etched, you know. Just so, I mean it’s really clear. And this whole thing, I mean, its much more dense. Hard Promises, too had that density, although there was a lot of quiet space between things on Hard Promises. This one, on first impression, on the first dozen or so listens, seems to be much more dense maybe a little more busy compared to those things. Was that intentional, or …

tp I think somewhat. Yeah, I think its a little more modern than the other album. I think the pacing is a little more up and, it’s probab1y the fastest album we ever did. This new one. It’s probably the most energetic.

dg Do you mean tempos?

tp In tempo I mean. And I think production-wise I did play around with a lot of different sounds. I really, um, I used synthesizers quite a bit on this album, though you don’t hear them predominantly.

dg I was going to make a comment about that because, I wanted to ask you about the machines. There are nice synthesizer patches, but there’s nothing like automatic going on.

tp No, and I try to use them to just create a sound texture rather than put the synthesizer and that’s it. On “You Got Lucky” I think we used it way up front, but ‘”You Got Lucky” is really just really the same sort of thing as “Breakdown” except with more modem instruments.

dg Because even on “You Got Lucky” you hear the synthesizer sound, but its not the thing that’s driving the tune.

tp No, I didn’t want that but I wanted to use them just because they’re such a neat toy. You can really create such a wide spectrum of textures in the music. And I don’t like it when the synthesizers kind of wash out the whole record and that’s all you’re listening to. I guess on occasion I’ve heard it work but, most of the time …

dg Do you ever use drum machines in any of you recordings?

tp I have one but I’ve never used it on a record.

dg Do you use it at home songwriting?

tp Uh, yeah. I’ve played around with it but it’s a little difficult to write a song to it. You know, maybe I’ll get an idea from sort of jamming with the drum machine but, or if I want to make a demo for the band I might put it on the demo. But we don’t really pay much attention to them.

dg I would get the feeling that you would pretty much avoid getting attached to machinery too much.

tp Well I really am fascinated by all the technology, and the, you know, the instruments that are coming out and I think that it would be wrong … some of my purist friends think that it should be avoided at all costs but I think that they’re just the instruments of the times and that you should deal with them, you know. I actually enjoy them, I like synthesizer music quite a bit, you know, some people wouldn’t know that probably. But I mean, like one of my favorite albums in the whole year was the Roxy Music Avalon. I thought it was just a great record, you know, for the most part, you know, things that just blew my mind.

dg If you like ……… you better like Devo.

tp Yeah, I like Devo too. I just think, with us, you know, I didn’t want to make a synthesizer album with this album, I wanted it to be really be a guitar album. But it is denser in production value, yeah. It’s deeper.

dg Yeah, there’s good, uh … well, Jimmy’s great with ambiances. He knows how to use the echoes and stuff. But it doesn’t … on the one hand it has that percussion emphasis but in the Rolling Stones sense rather than the Doobie Brothers sense. It’s not like everything’s built from the drum tracks up.

tp No. Not at all.

dg But there’s great drum sounds. And percussion roots have a lot to do with the sound.

tp Most of the tracks are done, almost completely live and then, maybe three, four overdubs. Not a great deal of overdubbing.

dg So you spend so much time in the studio really working on the material itself and the arrangements and the shape, not the recutting and the editing and the …

tp Oh yeah, and then sometimes like I might cut the song four or five times and go back to using the first or second one, you know, I mean on four different sections like with four different arrangements. But I might end up going back to the one I had four months ago, which, you know, business people don’t understand that, but it’s just curiosity. It’s just like, well, “what if we did this?” let’s just, you know, or if we played it in this style, and I just, I don’t know why I’m so scattered like that, I wish I wasn’t.

dg Is it scattered? I mean, if I was a businessman keeping track of studio costs I might think its scattered, but as a creative person I see, “here’s a potential road to go down, well, let’s get a couple of blocks down that way. Nope, that ain’t where I want to go” and you come back. It takes a certain amount of bravery to say, “nope, that’s not where I want to go.” and turn yourself around and head on home or go tack to the path you had.

tp Well, you just have to. You. know, you just have to know. I just have to know, uh, you know, would it have been better if I’d have done this? and I really want to know, and there’s a lot of experimenting with the songs. But mostly, you know, you say, “well we did it live,” and then they say, “Well, why did it take you a year?” and you’ll say, “well, for a lot of reasons.”

dg Did it live twenty times and then chose the right one.

tp Right. Or we did a lot of songs and we went through a lot of … so, or maybe we wanted to change the sound you know, maybe we decided, welt that’s a great idea but it would be neat if we did it with this sound. So we go back and get another sound and try it again.

dg A couple of questions on that and that vein. What’s your favorite track– most satisfying track you got out of the five records? One or two or three maybe.

tp Boy, that’s a hard question.

dg I’m sure it is, but it might be worth thinking about an answer. You know, which ones are you just the most completely satisfied with? Suspend for a moment the artist’s propensity for always judging and revising his history.

tp You mean like track that I thought …

dg I mean, yeah given song that, yeah well that one really came out great.

tp I think “Breakdown” was one that was exactly what I wanted to hear. Um, (Pause) Let me think. I think, there’s a song on Hard Promises called “You can Still Change Your Mind” that is one of my favorites, it is never played on the radio.

dg How come? Cause it wasn’t a single or something?

tp It just wasn’t that kind of music– … not that great. But I like that. The song on Torpedos, just as tracks went, called ”You Tell Me”–That was a great rhythm track. Duck Dunn played the bass.

dg Duck Dunn?

tp Yeah, he played on a couple of records with us … two or three. He played on the first album on a song called “Hometown Blues”. That’s one I like quite a bit. And, he played on “A Woman In Love” on Hard Promises. I don’t know, it’s a hard question to answer because on a given day I’m likely to say a different three. It’s real hard to listen; I never have listened to the albums at home or, once I’m done with them put them on and play them. Well, I’ve just heard it so much by the time it’s actually on a record that there’s not much adventure there, I mean when you’ve played it that much I mean its really … So I mostly just go by if I hear it on the radio or something, how it strikes me over the radio.

dg Is there one or two that you could say are the most surprising tracks? Surprisingly successful or surprisingly unsuccessful?

tp “Refugee” was a surprise to me that it was as popular as it was. Because I didn’t really—I liked it, and really went after it, um … when we finished that album and were playing it to people they, everyone just glossed over that, you know, they never really noticed that song.

dg It’s a hard–that song grew on me. It’s a hard song to like the first couple of times. It’s such a weird image. ”You don’t have to live like a refugee.” It takes a few listens–that song just sort of has to sneak into your head and just live there for a while before you understand what it means.

tp I never thought about it that way … you’re probably right. I think a lot of music is that way; that its very hard to get it .. even though it seems so accessible I’ve noticed that some people, you know the fifth time that they’ve heard it, they’ll come back and say, “Alright, you know, I get that. Boy, did I like that.”

dg All good music stands up to … yields more every time you listen.

tp I always want it to be so accessible that you can get it immediately just because I get so anxious about it that …

dg Well, it certainly works with “Breakdown.” God, that guitar thing is definitely a hook … that is such a grabber.

tp I think that’s probably why I like it so much. Its one of the better records we ever made.

dg Everything about that one is magic, I think. And “Don’t Do Me Like That” just sparkles from the get-go, too.

tp That was a song, you know, that we didn’t pay any attention to .. I’d written it years before. I’d written it before my first album–long before then.

dg Oh really?

tp Yeah. And I just tried to give it with … on the road with he J. Geils Band years ago back around the first album. And I gave a tape to Peter Wolf, and I said, “Hey, I think you guys ought to do this song, you know, this would be great for you guys.” And one day Wolf he says to me, ”Well, you know that song, ‘Don’t Do Me Like That”? That’s a good song, you know.” I said, ‘Well, are you going to cut it?” He goes, “No, you should cut it.” He goes, “How come you don’t cut it?” and so I thought about it some, you know, and Jimmy heard it and really liked it on a demo tape and said, ”Man, let’s cut that ‘Don’t Do Me Like That.’ ” and I didn’t want to do it, you know, to be honest. I didn’t want to cut it. I didn’t think it was like what we were doing at the time, and so we only did it like twice I think.

dg It’s pretty different from everything ..

tp Yeah … we did it like two times and at the very end of the album the assistant engineer, this guy named Torry Swenson (sp?) you know, was choosing the tracks, and goes, “You know, I think you ought to play that ‘Don’t Do me Like That’ again.” And this guy had sort of worried like that throughout the ……. and wouldn’t dare make a comment like that. And I said, “well, if Torry feels that strongly about it, let’s play that thing.” And we played it and went, well that is kind of nice. So we stuck it on the record and it was a big hit so you just never know. It’s good to have a lot of input.

dg Yeah, really, you never know when an elevator operator’s going to turn out to be …

tp You never know. Yeah, I tell you I’m really that way, you know. I like to get somebody out of the hall and you know, ask them if they’ll give me their opinion and I’ll do that a lot. I’ll get the switchboard operator or anybody that’s … come in, and tell me what you think about this song.

dg What about your wife?

tp Well, she has a lot of the same taste as me, so its hard … we kind of go the same tracks. You know, I think she has a little more … she’s good at like, if you want to pick a single or something like that. She’s a little more A.M. ears than me.

dg Is she good at keeping you from bullshitting yourself on tracks and stuff? Is she one of those people you can play something for and she’ll say, “Yep, that ain’t finished yet.”

tp Oh, she’ll say if she don’t like it or .. see around my house, the tapes play so often that you know, somebody will walk through and say, “You know, I’m starting to like that.” “Straight Into Darkness” or whatever. But you know the ones, then usually the ones that are singles are the ones that whoever is over will come and hear it across the room and come in and say “Wow.” And those are usually the ones that most people like.

dg Who chooses your singles?

tp I’ve been letting the record company choose the singles, I don’t choose them because as much as I’d like to I just don’t do it because its so important, you know a single, because if you don’t have a fairly successful single they don’t hear the album. It’s sad but true. And I really don’t have … I think that with somebody else I’m great at telling them what the single is.

dg You don’t want to take the responsibility for yourself?

tp I’m just not very good at it because I tend to go to my favorites or what I think was written the best or I think was this and its not always the single.

dg You know too much about your own tracks, huh?

tp Yeah, like I say. I’m too close to it to really know.

dg Somebody told me you had vetoed the release of “Letting You Go.”

tp I did do that.

dg Because you didn’t think it was strong enough

tp I just didn’t want it out as a single. Because it was like the third single they were putting out or something, it was way late in the year and I was already on another track and I didn’t want … in the back of my mind I didn’t want to have some mellow single on the radio at that time.

dg Were you already thinking rock and roll for this album?

tp I wanted to get into a whole nother channel. And I really stuck to my guns about it.

dg So no other single came out?

tp No … I didn’t want another single. I think that, you know, you should … It was just to me like putting out an old record as a single, you know. And I just didn’t see it.

dg You mean, it was too far after the release of the album?

tp Yeah, it was too late, you know. I just didn’t think that it had any … It was not intended to be one and I didn’t want it to be one.

dg Whoever it was who told me that about “Letting You Go” also said part of the reason for that was because that you weren’t all that jazzed about the album as a whole.

tp Whoever told you that don’t know me that well. Because, ..

dg Maybe that was somebody’s presumption. Obviously it was.

tp Yeah. People always make presumptions. (laughs)

dg Part of my job as a critic is to make presumptions, but I. ..

tp No I love the album.

dg … if I had the opportunity to check [my presumptions] out I would.

tp It was a real close album to me. I really love that album and I worked really hard on it. And I was just .. at times it was hard with that album because … you know, I think on a critical level I was pretty pleased with the reviews and things. I thought that everyone was pretty nice about it. I just could see that the kids really, you know in some cases, they just really didn’t understand, like why is he doing this? You know, why isn’t it like …..

end of side 1

why isn’t it like ”refugee” or something. It was the first time I’d ever really had to deal with that on a big scale.

dg So many ballads and …

tp Yeah, and it’s kind of a wordy album for us and …

dg I love that kind of thing.

tp Well, you’re a writer. See, that’s like the critics … these days critics tend to really accentuate the lyrics a lot in records–in reviews. Most of reviews now are about lyrics. But I don’t think that the audience hears them that way.

dg Well in our own defense I have to say that it’s rather hard to be articulate at any length at all about how bitchin’ a Bo Diddley beat is. No, no. Hell, I can go to town talking about something I think is important, but for the most part what you say is that the arrangements are energetic and catchier than shit and the production’s great and here’s what the lyrics are all about and you go …. because what else can you hang on?

tp I’m not knocking it … but that’s not really the way they’re listening to them. But I understand that if you’re going to write about it that’s all that you can expound on. Great beat, you know … good beat.

dg … I know what you mean … it’s not what people respond to … You’re going to end up saying the equipment lists and who did what and clock the tempos and shit and that’s boring reading.

tp Yeah, absolutely. No, I understand, I understand it. I just … was explaining .. , I thought that the kids thought that maybe I was getting a little heavy and it was heavy … you know, it was a heavy album but it was, I’m really glad that I did that album … I wanted to that, you know. I wanted to do that and I’m glad that … I wanted people to see that its not a one act thing, that the band is good at a lot of different styles of music and … you know, we have to exploit that somewhat to stay interested.

dg I would say that, again, based on maybe a dozen listens, that the new album is a little bit less hooky. A little bit … there might be fewer AM type tunes on this record which is nothing to be ashamed of, mind you, but something definitely worth commenting on. Is that, uh … am I off base on that?

tp Well, I didn’t go after hooks. But I think it’s probably more so than the last one. The last one I didn’t think was a real AM album. But, this one .. I think “You Got Lucky” is probably a good AM song. And there’s probably two or three that could be singles, but no we didn’t consciously say, well let’s write an album with singles or anything.

dg “Finding Out” might be a good one.

tp I think this record is really just a real good rock and roll record. That’s kind of a normal explanation, but that’s really what it is.

dg Bearing in mind what you said earlier about using the love song as the theme or as the chassis (for a different kind of metaphor) there might be some of these songs you could read into as being once again talking about the industry or talkin’ about the business end of running a career. Is that anything you’d care to comment on?

tp I didn’t write the album about the music business. I don’t think about the music business, I really don’t, I’m not aware of ….. (tape goes blank here) but that’s been, you know, how many years? Three or four since then, and I haven’t really paid much attention once all my legal things were settled I haven’t really paid much attention to the record industry except when someone asks me about it.

dg So … what … I was about to ask you what sources–what conflicts in your life are giving rise to your inspiration for material.

tp Just living life like anyone else.

dg Daily hassles?

tp Yeah, just everybody has it. There’s all kinds of conflicts. I mean, I don’t know anybody’s life that doesn’t have some conflict. And it’s just about living life. Like I say, its just a good rock album is what I wanted to do with this album. I wanted to have a…not really a party album, but it’s moreso than what we have been. It’s more something that you can just put on and bop to.

dg And after you’ve heard it a few times think, learn a little bit …

tp … and get something from it, you know …

dg What are you trying to say … what messages .. no that’s a nasty thing to ask. That’s too big a question. I mean … I made a note here, “What does his career mean?” which is really a broad question, but …

tp I think when you start thinking about your career you don’t have one.

dg That’s a good answer. But what’s important to get across now, not thinking in terms of careers now, but thinking in terms of what you’re able to do, the forum you have to say things to people, what do you think is important to put across in your music? What are you trying to put across?

tp Well, I’ll certainly not trying to preach or tell anyone what’s right or wrong. I’m kind of …I see myself as an observer, you know. I’m just a reporter – I’m just reporting and I just try to usually use what’s happened to me or peop1e in my immediate vicinity that’s somehow come through my writing. And from that come the songs and hopefully the better I get at expressing that and getting that across, the more meaningful the tunes are to people I guess.

dg “Reporter” implies that you’re laying out the facts but not necessarily drawing the conclusions … but you’re not necessarily drawing the conclusions or arranging the facts in such a way as to make a point.

tp … I’m just putting it down as I see it ….. Well, you see you just have to allow for time there if you write a tune and it’s still relevant five years later, then you really did well. Because your opinions can change so fast. Like doing an interview and answering questions and then a week later you might answer them totally different because you just feel differently. Or you just learned something else that changes your opinions. I don’t know, I don’t think about it this deeply often, but I don’t know about drawing conclusions because then you get into “am I right or all I wrong?’ So you just go by what you feel and hope that you’re right. But they’re really just rock and roll songs and I don’t think that I’m writing the Bible or anything that heavy. I don’t think anyone in rock and roll is, I don’t think it means that much. I’m not saying that rock and roll doesn’t mean that much, I’m saying that it’s different person to person. A song affects … if this phrase triggers some emotion in a person, that they’ve lived that phrase or they identify heavily with it, it’s not always the same with the next guy. It don’t mean nothing to you, you know. Or some people are open to accept it, some people are closed. You just hope for the best, really. You just kind of please yourself and know that … I’ll tell you what I’m trying to do, is just trying to make an album, with this Long After Dark album I just wanted to make an album that was fun, that you could enjoy that didn’t insult your intelligence. Which is what I don’t like–is that most of the records that are good rock records its just so stupid that … the lyrics are just so bad that it really insults my intelligence. And I just, hopefully trying to make some records and trying not to insult anybody and I know it sounds awfully humble and all that, but it’s true.

dg Being a star doesn’t mean you have to be arrogant, you know.

tp I think we’re pretty arrogant, probably. But that’s a whole ‘nother problem.

dg … for the people you have to deal with day to day, it doesn’t bother me much sitting here in one encounter, you know …

tp No, I’m just joking really. I don’t know, I think that we’re just afraid that any time … I know I get afraid that when people start taking it so seriously it scares me. I kind of get a little bit withdrawn from it. ‘Cause I don’t want to deal with it I do something serious. I just don’t want to deal with that.

dg So if you’re going to try and make a point about a social issue, for example, you’ll do it in maybe a less linear, direct way.

tp Yeah. Or maybe the time will come that I would address it straight on and be like the Clash and say, write a political song, but right now, up to now, I haven’t felt inclined to do that. Just because I’ve always would rather be entertaining than you know, I’d rather take somebody’s mind away from that for awhile or into another place and … but it always comes up … it always comes back. But I don’t rule out that we would do that, that we would get–that I would get into that frame of mind where I would want to write like that and put it across. I don’t know, I’m a little wrapped up and a little tangles in the answer to that, to tell you the truth. I don’t know, any time I’ll see somebody who’s just basically a guitar player and a songwriter or a singer or whatever; anytime it’s taken too serious you kind of want to throw a tomato at them. You know, because they’re just rock and roll singers.

dg So that’s what keeps you from taking yourself too seriously.

tp Hopefully. Yeah. It’s just rock and roll. It’s really meant to have a good time. It’s not meant to be a lot. It’s wonderful when it inspires and, you know I’ve hit my highest highs from rock and roll, so I have all the respect in the world from it, but I look at it as entertainment.

dg First-

tp Yeah. And everything else is just the fringe benefits. It’s just the … you don’t want to get the horse in front of the cart [sic]. Maybe this is all bullshit, you know, but that’s the way I look at it.

dg We have to agree ahead of time that we’re going to talk and then also agree that it doesn’t necessarily–like you say, you might give a different answer a month from now and therefore when I’m writing I’m acutely aware of that. I have to be conscious of the fact that none of this is set in concrete. But that it it’s valid now it can still have some meaning a in a context that may change radically a month from now.

tp Yeah, I’ll agree with that.

dg We both have to understand that nothing’s permanent. But on the other hand, music is a very important thing–to me. And it’s very important to an awful lot of people. Look at the hate mail I got over the Fleetwood Mac story.

tp You were nasty to Fleetwood Mac?

dg No, I reported what I perceived as a problem, between various members of the band. They are all strong people and they’re all very different. At the time that I saw Lindsey, Chris and Mick, Stevie was nowhere to be found and wouldn’t talk and stuff so I asked them about that and they talked about it freely. And I reported it. Unfortunately, the designers and the editors put a little bit of an edge on it and put “the trouble with Stevie” on the cover, which prompted some letters from some of her fans.

tp I would expect so.

dg In a way that’s kind of good. I didn’t mind it, I didn’t take it personally. But in a way, it’s kind of good that people care that much about it still. Not that it’s a matter of life and death, but that it still matters. Because when I was younger the Beatles taught us all that music be a force in life and I feel that music has become terribly irrelevant in many circles. Somewhere in between there’s a balance, there’s a right place for music to occupy in people’s lives.

tp Oh, absolutely. I agree that it’s sad to see it get irrelevant and that there’s only a few people out there that really care enough about it that they strive to make it more than run-of-the-mill fodder. But I see, especially with the newer groups and the people coming along you see that sort of conscience about it coming back. And that’ll come from doing it to enjoy it rather than to use it to make them glorified, you know, to glorify them. Because when I started playing music it wasn’t to make a living or to buy another apartment building or whatever is behind … you did it because you … like you went out on a date. You know, you did it for the sheer amusement of it, for the fun of it.

dg You didn’t set out with the goal of changing the world or making statements or changing the world or anything either?

tp Oh no. I mean I didn’t even know, I hadn’t read about that yet. I just had records. I just played music and I … I knew all of it, but I hadn’t read about it. It was year later that people started writing about it. You know, it meant the world to me, it still does. I don’t believe that’ll ever leave. I’m sure that it does to people, to everyone. Music means something to them. Its just a shame now that there’s so much music now, there’s so many records and things that I think people are a little bit dubious or skeptical of them because they’ve been through so many bad ones.

dg Well, it’s just difficult to find what’s good. There’s so much to look at and listen to that …

tp Especially when the concept of not caring about all the tracks on the album started, you know when that started it really went down hill.

dg Oh, you mean, lets get two hit singles and ….

tp … two hits and whatever the hell else, you know.

dg Well, that comes along with that whole bottom-line orientation. Too many businessmen and not enough artists. Is there anything you feel like saying that I haven’t asked you about, or any particular subject of importance you feel you’d like to get out in the context of a music magazine?

tp I don’t think so. Can’t think of anything. I just .. these days I’m just happy . I’m happy with my record and I’m glad to be back. Looking forward to playing again, you know? See you soon, everybody.

dg I guess this’ll run in January. That might work, or maybe we’ll hold it til February til you’re on the road. If you come back to the states in mid-January you’ll be out into March at least, right?

tp Oh, we’ll be out in January. We’ll be on the road. We’re coming back at the end of December and going out right after Christmas.

dg Oh, I see, so all of January pretty much in the states.

tp Yeah, yeah. We’ll be right out. I mean, probably a week into January.

dg Oh good, okay. We’ll probably run it in January. So, here we are folks. “Good to be back.” That’s a nice headline.

tp It is good to be back. It’s nice to go back to work. I tell you, I ‘m not inclined to make records for a year anymore. You know, I really hope I can do it quicker. Now, I’ll probably take two years. I really hope I can do it quicker ’cause I don’t like being off the road that much. I really miss it. Too much civilian life.

dg It gets boring being at home?

tp It just gets boring not being able to play. Not being able to go out and have some feedback. It’s all one-way work when you’re in the studio. There is no feedback.

dg Isn’t it practical to just like drop in? Like Neil’s real good for doing that–paying off the act and playing in some dive in San Jose one night.

tp Yeah, you can do that sort of thing. Unfortunately, I don’t know. You really got to put some work into doing that. Now it’s a bigger problem to do that than to play a normal gig. Because you do that and people come in and their expectations are a hundred times higher because you’re playing a hundred seat -bar and they’re going to see them right here instead of the coliseum, so it’s got to be better. And then you haven’t played in six months and you’re just wandering in and you don’t want to do the big show. But when you don’t do it, like if you did that …

dg … more pressure playing on a one-off gig.

tp Well, sure. If you do that and you don’t play “Breakdown” they’re going to be pissed off. It’s the same thing, so I’m not complaining, I’m just saying …

dg … as life traps go, its a pretty reasonable one to deal with.

tp Yeah, it’s just as hard. So, in answer to your question, yeah, it can be done if you’ve really got to get out there, it can be done. I did a lot of sitting in this year. I’d go play with Del. I did a couple of gigs with him and played. That was a lot of fun. It was like just being one of the band.

dg Didn’t you drop into the Plimsouls and sit in?

tp Yeah, when the Whiskey closed. And I went and sat in with Jackson Browne down at the Rose Bowl one night. And probably somebody else. I’m probably forgetting somebody. Yeah, just those little bits were nice just to get up on the stage and sing a song or two. Without any pressure and … it was nice.

dg Enjoyable.

tp So, we’ll be back.

dg Great. Okay. I think I’ve got more than enough to deal with.

tp Okay.

dg I appreciate it.

tp Hey. I appreciate it. Thanks.

End of tape.

DeadCo ticket winners so far

October 2nd, 2017

Nov 12 Joe Chelius
Nov 14 Jessica Scott
Nov 16 Michelle Daschka

DeadCo ticket giveaway – Nov 17 in Boston

October 2nd, 2017

Dead & Company ticket giveaway!

I’ve got one pair for each show on the upcoming tour. We’re gonna offer them one show at a time. Note: this is admission only. Just a pair of tickets, which you’ll pick up at the venue’s Will Call window.

Today we’re offering a pair of tickets for Friday, November 17 at the TD Garden in Boston. If you’d like a pair of tickets to this show, send an email to DEADCO@WELL.COM – put the show date in the SUBJECT line and include your name, email address, and phone number in the body of the message.

We’ll pick a winner at random in a couple of days, and then I’ll announce the next giveaway.

PLEASE NOTE that posting a comment here is not going to do you any good. You enter this contest by sending email as outlined above. A comment here is not a contest entry.

Grateful Dead Hour no. 1515

October 1st, 2017

Week of October 2, 2017

Part 1 19:31
Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders, GarciaLive Volume 9 (8/11/74)

Part 2 35:08
Grateful Dead 8/15/71 Berkeley Community Theater

Continuing with the tape we started on last week: August 15, 1971 at the Berkeley Community Theater. I talked last week about the lean-and-mean lineup of the band here – the original five players, with Pigpen playing a reduced role on the keyboards as his health declined and the improvisational power of the quartet of Jerry, Bob, Phil and Billy grew and grew. Another reason this recording is so clear is that there’s not a huge amount of stuff onstage – the guitarists are using simple amplification rigs with very few effects, and it’s just Billy on drums since Mickey Hart left the scene in February of that year. So you can hear everybody clearly. Plus it’s just a very strong performance by a band in its prime. The vocals are slightly overdriven on this particular recording, but not enough to interfere with the amazingness of the performance.

“White Rabbit riff” is a VERY amusing interaction with a member of the audience who made a weird request.


Support for the Grateful Dead Hour comes this week from:

Dead and Company – Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, John Mayer, Jeff Chimenti and Oteil Burbridge – on tour November 12 through December 8. Complete details and ticketing at www-dot-deadandcompany-dot-com. That’s Dead and Company, on tour from November 12 through December 8.

The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. Jamband torchbearers Umphrey’s McGee play The Cap on October 20th and 21st. This will be one of the heaviest rocking and hardest dancing parties of the year. Events, information, and ticketing at

Red Roses, Green Gold, a new show from MWM Live by Michael Norman Mann, featuring the music and lyrics of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter. It’s playing in New York City’s Greenwich Village at the Minetta Lane Theatre. Tickets are available at or

“Red Roses, Green Gold”

September 29th, 2017

Interview with Michael Norman Mann, author of the new play “Red Roses, Green Gold,” based on the music of the Grateful Dead. This will air on the GDH the week of October 16, but previews are starting soon so I wanted to get the word out.